Home » World News » 1 dead as Pakistan International Airlines workers protest against privatisation

1 dead as Pakistan International Airlines workers protest against privatisation

Ruchi Kumar | Updated on: 14 February 2017, 5:33 IST

  • Pakistan national assembly passes bill to privatise loss-making national carrier PIA. Employees of the airline take out massive protest. One killed and several injured in clashes with security personnel.
  • Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif evokes Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) that abolishes unions and bans workers\' protests.
  • Civilians support privatisation as PIA reported losses of Rs 27.8 billion to its existing economic erosion in 2015.

Employees of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) took to the streets of Karachi, on Tuesday, to protest against the privatisation of the national carrier.

In response, the police and Pakistan rangers took riot control measures against the protesting crowd firing rubber bullets and water cannons to prevent them from moving into the Jinnah terminal in the city.

Videos and photos shared on social media reveal a violent and rising confrontation between the employees and the security forces. While media reports state that about ten protesters have been injured so far, social media posts suggest that one employee has been killed in the resulting clashes.

Dr Seemi Jamali, spokesperson at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Complex, confirmed that nearly ten injured were brought in to the medical facility, following clashes.

However, the Pakistani rangers have denied having fired upon the protesters.

These protests comes less than a day after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for the implementation of the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) that abolishes unions and bans workers' protests.

Pakistan's political players have condemned the use of force against protestors, urging for a more peaceful solution. Several women protestors are also among those injured by the police forces.

President of the Pakistan Airlines Cabin Crew Association President Nasrullah Khan told the media that the strike would continue despite the backlash, till the government accepted their four-point agenda. The strikes have

The airline, however, claims that flights are operating as scheduled, despite social media reports of pilots refusing to fly the planes. "All the flights this morning left on time," a Jinnah International Airport official said.

What is the PIA's four-point agenda?

1) The agenda demands that the government take back the bill passed on 21 January - converting the national flag carrier into a public limited company.

2) PIA employees be provided a chance to reform the airline. If the employees fail to do so, the government will have the freedom to do whatever it finds suitable.

3) Privatisation, in any form, whether it is in form of a strategic partner or selling of 36 per cent or 1pc of the organisation's shares, is not acceptable to the employees.

4) Government should immediately review the aviation policy and form a committee for this purpose comprising members from PIA employees' JAC along with PIA experts Khursheed Anwar, Kamran Hasan and Salahuddin.

What does the privatisation of the PIA signify?

Much like with our Air India, PIA has suffered in the advent of globalisation, failing to keep up in terms of service and business sustainability.

Industry experts in India have long been demanding privatisation of Air India that has drawn a debt of nearly Rs 40,000 crore for the taxpayers.

Much like its counterpart, the PIA management recently reported that they had added a whooping Rs 27.8 billion to its already dipping losses in 2015.

Both airlines have also been accused of overstaffing and surge payments. Air India has been often criticised for its hiring, salary and promotion practices. On the other hand, about 1000 workers were hired in the already overstaffed Pakistani airline, The Tribune reported last month.

The airline also drew intense criticism over the hiring of a German CEO at a package of Rs 5 millions per month.

Several attempts have been made in the past to privatised Air India, and an expert committee is still to determine the fate and future course of the famed carrier. But while, Air India was saved from privatisation in 2012 thanks to a bailout package worth Rs 30,231, the Pakistani carrier was not as lucky.

The country's National Assembly passed a bill on January 21 to convert the national carrier into a public limited company, as Pakistan International Airlines Company Limited (PIACL).

Pakistani civilians, on the other hand, seem to be largely in favour of the privatisation of the loss making corporation.




First published: 2 February 2016, 7:00 IST
Ruchi Kumar @RuchiKumar

Ruchi Kumar is an Indian journalist living in Kabul with her cat Bukhari. On most days, she reports on the ongoings in the region. Rest of the time, she reads, writes and wanders around Kabul looking for people who will tell stories.